The Western Reserve Academy wrestling team had an eventful day at the Hawken Duals Jan. 11 in Gates Mills, finishing 2-3.
It was the Pioneers' second meeting in the Hawken Red Gym this season, which also included teams from Cleveland Benedictine, Independence, Newbury, and Wickliffe.
Reserve won 45-30 against Wickliffe and 54-25 against Newbury and was defeated 45-30 by Independence, 50-30 by Cleveland Benedictine and 51-24 by Hawken.
"Overall, I would say this was a great day of wrestling for our squad," WRA head coach Dave Farrell said. "We went into this thing knowing that we'd face very tough competition with experienced squads from Benedictine and Indy and of course, Hawken is also very tough.
"Due to injury and illness, we were missing some of our high-impact wrestlers, but that's the nature of the beast.
"I can't stress enough how proud we are of our guys, many of whom are wrestling for the first time and really showing great strides of improvement."
Team captain Robert Head went undefeated at 195 pounds, going 5-0 with two first-period pins. Facing Newbury's junior Jim Parker, Head threw his opponent late in the first and bundled him for a pin with seconds remaining on the clock.
Head continued the theme against Benedictine's junior, Greg Page, with a headlock throw near the edge of the mat that resulted in a pin.
"Rob showed a lot of mat awareness with that move," Farrell said. "They were locked up near the edge of the mat when Rob tossed him. He knew he was close, so he sucked him back in and made a nice pin."
Dan Gomez (160) pinned Hawken's Aaron Hood in the second period.
"It has been marvelous to watch this young man develop as a new wrestler," Pioneers' assistant coach Roman Sturgis said. "Here's a guy who joined our team three months ago. We taught him a handful of moves and threw him into the mix.
"What's so exciting about watching Gomez perform is his natural athletic ability and killer instinct.
"He did a little boxing in Mexico City before he came to Reserve and you can really see that sense of poise and determination when he grapples. In both periods, he took down Hood with a double leg. He didn't close with his half-nelson in time for the end of the first, but when he zapped him in the second, he was right on him, closing the gap and sinking that half."
Gomez also beat his Newbury opponent in the second period when from the top position, he caught freshman Mark Sanders mid-switch and pinned with a headlock.
Billy Walsh (126) won four of five matches, one by forfeit, one by decision and two by pin.
Nick Farrell (132) pinned Wickliffe's Patrick Bonano in the second period by arm bar. Colt Roe (170) pinned Wickliffe's Alan Haavisto with 1.1 seconds remaining in the first period and Tyson Oliver (285) pinned Cory George of Benedictine in the second period.
"I'm very excited about the next few years with this team," Dave Farrell said. "We've got a lot of talent with our young guys, which is really going to start paying off in the near future."
Reserve is scheduled to visit Warrensville Heights Jan. 23 at 6 p.m.